Donald Trump, Roger Ailes, and All the Women

By Courtney Hall Lee 8-19-2016
Roger Ailes (left) public domain, and Donald Trump via Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

We all know that Donald Trump has the rare distinction of being nominated as a presidential nominee for a major party with zero public office experience on his resume. What he does have is a public history with institutions that arguably objectify women (see: nearly 10-year ownership of Miss Universe Organization, his 1990 Playboy cover, etc.). Trump has run into several high-profile incidents concerning his campaign’s treatment of women during the primaries, including:

And now, reports have surfaced that former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes — who recently resigned his duties after several sexual harassment claims from Fox employees — is helping Trump with debate prep. The Republican nominee denies Ailes has any formal role in the campaign, telling the New York Times, “I’ll speak with Roger, but this is not a formal thing. … I don’t have a debate coach. I’ve never had a debate coach.”

Perhaps, given Trump’s recent comments regarding workplace harassment of women, this alliance shouldn’t come as a surprise. He recently stated that he believes women who experience sexual harassment in the workplace should seek remedies within the company or ultimately quit the job if necessary. “I would like to think she would find another career or another company if that was the case,” Trump told USA Today when speaking about his daughter Ivanka hypothetically experiencing harassment.

As Trump gears up to debate the first female presidential candidate for a major party, the idea of Ailes advising him on debating Hillary Clinton is … head scratching, especially when looking at Trump’s record with women on the debate stage. Given Trump’s glaring gender gap across the polls, an easy conclusion is that Trump simply does not care to win women’s support. Trump’s rhetoric and actions appear more beholden to patriarchy than to a wide swath of the voting population.

One of Trump’s major platform points is his plan to ensure that jobs stay in America and promises “an explosion of new jobs” — but what about the rights of the workforce already here? Trump’s comments suggesting women experiencing harassment should quit their jobs exposes a failure to understand the true economic condition of the working public. If a woman is harassed, should she continue to go to work with her harasser for the weeks, months, or years it may take to find new employment? Should a woman take a pay cut or less prestigious post in order to escape sexual harassment? Or should she simply quit her job, placing herself in a position of economic insecurity or perhaps poverty?

I’d like to hear answers to all of these questions in the upcoming debates. It will be interesting to see how Ailes has prepped the nominee for that.

Courtney Hall Lee is a writer, attorney, and co-host of the "Dovetail" podcast. You can find her on Twitter @CourtRhapsody.

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